From Simi Valley, California, December 2011's totally eclipsed Moon hung just a few degrees above the western horizon.
There’s a total lunar eclipse happening across all of North America LATE tonight and early tomorow morning (the 15th). A total lunar eclipse occurs when the full Moon passes through the dark inner core of the Earth’s shadow, which is called the umbra.
North America hasn’t experienced a total eclipse of the Moon since 2011. But that dearth ends in the early morning hours of April 15th (or late on April 14th for the West Coast), when the full Moon passes through the umbra and all but disappears. In fact, we’re due to see three more eclipses over the next two years, a bounty of lunar eclipses that won’t occur again until 2032.
While it may be happening a little late for folks on the East Coast, you’ll find that a total eclipse is worth staying up for…
The eclipse will start to be noticeable around 1:00 AM ET when the Moon’s leading edge enters Earth’s penumbra, the outer portion of its shadow..
Initially the affect is not especially noticeable — you won’t start to see a dusky fringe along the Moon’s leading edge (known to astronomers as its “celestial east”) until the the moon intrudes about halfway across the penumbra. As the Moon glides deeper into the penumbra and approaches the umbra, the shading effect of the Earth’s shadow on the appearance of the moon becomes much more obvious.
The total eclipse begins at 3:07 AM ET when the moon is completely within the Earth’s shadow. From the Moon’s perspective, the Sun remains completely hidden for 1 hour 18 minutes. From Earth’s perspective, the lunar disk isn’t completely blacked out but instead remains dimly lit by a deep orange or red glow— but it’s easy to think the moon’s completely missing if you don’t look closely.
You can do the math and see the timing is a little more friendly for folks on the west coast.
Regardless of how late the hour, you’ll not regret staying up to catch one of nature’s best shows!